Monday, August 10, 2009

A Vortex Rumpus

"and he sailed off through night and day
and in and out of weeks
and almost over a year..."

-Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are

There you have it. Time travel in one of the most beloved classics in children's literature. Maybe not exactly as the author intended, but in the span of one evening, between the moment Max is sent to his room without supper and the moment he returns to find warm soup waiting for him, he has imagined the fullness of a year's time.

Time plays a crucial role in the story, then. Had time progressed in the ordinary, expected way, Max would have never had the opportunity to learn the fearsome-looking monsters' ways, conquer them, and throw the mother-of-all-rumpuses as king. Most importantly, however, is how crucial the passage of time is to the book's theme. Loneliness can only be fully realized in the absence of true companionship and love. It takes time for life's violent emotions and noise and diversions to quiet long enough for us to listen to the heartbeat of our souls.

And so Max returns as all good time travelers do, having spent a lifetime in mere moments, wise to the lessons of his journey. We should all be so lucky.

Which leads me to a sneak-peek at Wednesday's post:
Do the best movies come from original screenplays or from adapted novels? Bring your favorites and we'll have a discussion rumpus.

How can Hollywood turn a ten sentence classic into a full-length feature film?


Charles Gramlich said...

I wonder how HOllywood can do most of what they do. I loved this book though. Loved reading it to my son.

Rick said...

Thanks, L.A.! I'd never even heard of this book, but I'll track it down now and give it a read.

the walking man said...

How can Hollywood turn a ten sentence classic into a full-length feature film?

Uhhhh buy the rights (or just steal the idea and tinker it into something that can't be fought in court) and then pay some person or another ten times that amount to put the scene descriptions into Hollywood jargon and then take it all to the computer lab and viola! a film is born.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Charles - I'm pretty sure it's all about the writers. Without screenwriters, Hollywood would be nothing.

@Rick - Don't buy it. There is a video on YouTube where you can see the illustrations and have it read to you. Like storytime :)

@walkingman - don't have much faith in Hollywood, do ya? I'm sure some of it happens that way;)

Mostly I was questioning the enormous amount of imagination screenwriters need to fill in THAT much story while still respecting the tone and integrity of the original work.

Barbara Martin said...

L.A., some people's spiritual journeys occur over a few minutes to leave them changed when they return to the present time. No different from this story. Same application.

Marilyn Brant said...

I loved this book as a kid and as a parent. To me, it's magical that Sendak managed to pack a range of human emotion and so much imagination into this short story. Who wouldn't understand both Max's determination to escape the confines of his regular life and, then, his desire to come back? Who wouldn't want to join him on his adventure? I still do... ;)

Pamela Cayne said...

We're rumpusing? Nobody told me we were rumpusing. Doesn't my RSS feed cover that?

Anyhoozles, I think the best movies come from the best stories, be they written by screenwriters, novelists, short story authors, comic book writers and so on. Plus, what's the definition of "best"? Best opening weekend? Best emotional response? Best critically reviewed? Best awards? Best web buzz? And aside from one of those, most are unmeasurable.

It reminds me of something I saw on J.A. Konrath's blog recently: "As an artist, the desire to express yourself is strong, but the desire to have the masses embrace your expression (and for you to benefit from it) is just as strong." So maybe the best could be described as something strongly expressed and embraced by the masses? Hmm. Maybe the first, but the second isn't ringing true as much, is it?

Hope I fulfilled my rumpus obligation. :)

laughingwolf said...

you're right about the screenwriters, lam... and sadly the attitude in hollyweird remains just as sam goldwyn said eons ago: writers are a dime a dozen... hence they get no respect til they become director or producer as well :(

how can you possibly tell rick, or anyone, NOT to buy any book? :(

right on, mark...

Robin said...

I'm riding on Pam's rumpus coattails...I like what she said. :)

Did love the book and look forward to the movie.

Sue L said...

I don't watch a lot of children's movies, but this is one I'm looking forward to.

As to your question. I can't really think of a book that wasn't better than the movie. To me, the book is always better because they can be richer.

I do love the visuals, seeing the story come to life, especially in some of the classics that have been made into movies, but for me, it adds to the book experience rather than trying to replace it.

Todd Wheeler said...

[Points to Pamela's post] What she said. A great screenwriter can create a great story, from scratch or from a book.

Time compression is a handy trick. I can think of several fantasy series that used it, but not so much other genres.

the walking man said...

Actually Laura I sent at his wife's (once a close friend)request a novel of mine to a screen writer "just so he could look it over and maybe make a suggestion or two about cleaning it up"

Next thing you know I was learning all about copyright and stupidity of an author that only wanted to be better. Yes I have some industry trust issues I think.

Especially as I watch his name roll with the writing credits on a TV show that is eerily similar what I stupidly sent.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Barbara - I wish it happened that fast for most people. The world would be such a different place.

@Marilyn - I don't know about you, but I just want to be invited to a rumpus that lasts for THAT long ;)

@Pam - consider it filled :) What Konrath said is so true. It is the honest writer who owns #2. We write to be read. Period.

@laughingwolf - I assumed (maybe incorrectly?) that he may not have wee ones running about and may choose to spend his book dollar on something for himself. Libraries are good, too :)

@Robin - coattails sound appropriate for a rumpus, don't they? :)

@Sue - You just made me think of the children's classic Bridge to Terabithia they turned into a movie. The movie did add a whole other dimension--seeing those things chase them through Terabithia--but the ones in my head were still better :)

@Todd - I've thought about trying my hand at a screenplay, but I think it has to be just about the hardest writing known to man. I am in awe of those who can.

@Walkingman - That ratbastard. Hard to prove, I'm sure.

laughingwolf said...

ah, sorry... could not see you telling anyone NOT to buy books

rick, as i recall, does have a child, boy, i think... dunno the age

i had a similar experience to mark's... hard to prove, like you say :(